Launch Slideshow

Founder W. Frank Little Jr. is an architect who studied under E. Fay Jones and practiced at Gensler.

Award: Green-Zip Tape

Award: Green-Zip Tape

  • Founder W. Frank Little Jr. is an architect who studied under E. Fay Jones and practiced at Gensler.

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    Founder W. Frank Little Jr. is an architect who studied under E. Fay Jones and practiced at Gensler.

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    Mike Morgan

    Founder W. Frank Little Jr. is an architect who studied under E. Fay Jones and practiced at Gensler. But it was a master's degree in architectural tax law that was the key to his invention of demountable drywall tape. He discovered that if drywall is removable and reusable, there is a tax benefit that is worth up to 25 percent of the total cost of the material.

  • Joint compound--the material placed over the tape to seal the joint--hardens as it cures, causing many tapes to rip if pulled off after installation.

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    Joint compound--the material placed over the tape to seal the joint--hardens as it cures, causing many tapes to rip if pulled off after installation.

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    Courtesy Green-Zip Tape Partition

    Joint compound—the material placed over the tape to seal the joint—hardens as it cures, causing many tapes to rip if pulled off after installation. Green-Zip Tape is installed using the same process, but its woven backing allows it to remain intact when pulled off, allowing drywall to be demounted.

  • Placing metal studs

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    Placing metal studs

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    Courtesy Green-Zip Tape Partition

    Placing metal studs

  • Applying Green-Zip Tape

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    Applying Green-Zip Tape

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    Courtesy Green-Zip Tape Partition

    Applying Green-Zip Tape

  • Covering tape with joint compund.

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    Covering tape with joint compund.

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    Courtesy Green-Zip Tape Partition

    Covering tape with joint compund.

  • Completed wall installation

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    Completed wall installation

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    Courtesy Green-Zip Tape Partition

    Completed wall installation

  • Green-Zip Tape end remains exposed.

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    Green-Zip Tape end remains exposed.

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    Courtesy Green-Zip Tape Partition

    Green-Zip Tape end remains exposed.

  • Removing Green-Sip Tape for Demounting Partition.

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    Removing Green-Sip Tape for Demounting Partition.

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    Courtesy Green-Zip Tape Partition

    Removing Green-Sip Tape for Demounting Partition.

  • Removing connecting screws.

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    Removing connecting screws.

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    Courtesy Green-Zip Tape Partition

    Removing connecting screws.

  • Demounting drywall for reinstallation elsewhere.

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    Demounting drywall for reinstallation elsewhere.

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    Courtesy Green-Zip Tape Partition

    Demounting drywall for reinstallation elsewhere.

It’s hard to get simpler in conception and execution than Green-Zip Tape. The product is a substitute for the joint-compound tape that has been used between gypsum board panels since the introduction of prefabricated plasterboard in the early 1930s. The product impressed all three jurors.

Cristobal Correa noted that the product is one step in a new process that allows for the reuse of drywall—creating demountable partitions. In fact, builders can reuse the metal studs, tracks, and screws as well. A releasable adhesive is applied to the middle studs, while screws are used only to attach the edges of the boards. Green-Zip Tape is applied—much like ordinary tape—with joint compound float applied over it. But Green-Zip Tape is extended 3 inches beyond the bottom of the panel and can be hidden under the carpet or behind a base. When it’s time to demount the wall, you simply expose the end of the tape and peel it off—exposing the board’s edges and screws for simple disassembly. The only material that can’t be reused is the joint compound.

Green-Zip Tape has already been deployed in Chevron Corp.’s Houston headquarters, where a three-month payback on investment is expected. The innovation could have ramifications for green building in general: Executive Order #13514 requires federal buildings to deter 50 percent of construction waste from landfills using recycling or reuse by 2015. Green-Zip Tape could be a significant boon to building owners trying to meet this requirement.

But its use isn’t limited to construction and recycling. Moving HVAC services around a building can be accomplished without messy and time-consuming cutting and patching, if the builder has used the attachment system in the building.

“It’s kind of a banal thing, but smart,” Frank Barkow said. “If you think about the square meters of this stuff that has to be moved every day, it’s huge.” Jenny Wu noted, in “a simple way, it’s trying to do something.”